Nine years after 9/11, the United States is still gripped in fear, not just a fear of terrorism but a fear that penetrates the core of our collective souls. As a nation, we have been in constant fear since that attack and in that regard the terrorists have won. They changed us that day and not for the better.
Through the military, the government strikes out at terrorist targets but does that really strike at the causes of terrorism or deter terrorists? In Afghanistan we are trying to win hearts and minds in the fight against the Taliban and I find it very reminiscent of how we fought the Viet Cong, with similar results. Have we learned anything?
As a society, we feel as if we can’t fight the real threat (even if we knew what it was) so we turn our fear against easier targets — Muslims, immigrants, gays, nudists, or anyone else who seems to be different from us. We have become so entrenched in the rightness of our beliefs that we can’t open our eyes, our minds or our hearts to any other possibilities. Fear has crippled us as human beings.
I don’t believe terrorists or anyone else hates Americans for our freedom. If freedom is the reason then it’s the way we squander it and give it up piece by piece for the illusion of security. Maybe we are hated for our arrogance, our pushiness, our wastefulness, our gluttony, our hypocrisy, and our insistence on doing everything our way. Maybe people hate us because we impose our culture, our beliefs, and our values on everyone else with little or no regard for theirs.
In today’s world we’re much closer together than ever before. We’ve got to learn to get along with the other kids on the block.